About this Show

The Situation Room

News/Business. Wolf Blitzer. Traditional reporting and online resources update international news.

NETWORK
CNN

DURATION
01:00:00

RATING

SCANNED IN
San Francisco, CA, USA

SOURCE
Comcast Cable

TUNER
Virtual Ch. 759 (CNN HD)

VIDEO CODEC
mpeg2video

AUDIO CODEC
ac3

PIXEL WIDTH
1920

PIXEL HEIGHT
1080

TOPIC FREQUENCY

Borrow a DVD
of this show
  CNN    The Situation Room    News/Business. Wolf Blitzer. Traditional  
   reporting and online resources update international news.  

    October 20, 2012
    3:00 - 4:00pm PDT  

3:00pm
help save a man who had been stranded at sea for nine days. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer and you're in "the situation room." monday's third and final presidential debate will be a serious challenge for both candidates. it's focused on international policy and arena where both mitt romney lacks experience and the obama administration is under growing criticism, especially when it comes to the situation in the middle east. let's start with cnn's white house correspondent dan loathian. i assume officials in the white house campaign they know the president has questions he's going to answer. >> reporter: that's correct, wolf. and there doesn't appear to be
3:01pm
much of a difference between the two candidates when it comes to foreign policy. but the president is getting prepared in study hall this weekend out at camp david. i think when you talk to folks out there, most people believe the president does have an advantage going into this debate. we expect he'll talk about getting osama bin laden but no one here at the white house, no one with the campaign is under estimating governor romney. he won the first debate. he had a strong performance in debate number 2, and that's perhaps why you saw the president out on the campaign trail this week warming up, hitting mitt romney on foreign policy. >> the next debate on monday will be about foreign policy. it will be interesting to hear what governor romney has to say. he said, he thought it was tragic the way we ended the war in iraq. said double down on this. said we should still have troops in iraq. just said this a couple weeks
3:02pm
ago. i think that was a mistake. >> reporter: the president still remains vulnerable on libya, even as more information comes out about what the intelligence community knew shortly after those attacks. as you know there was this narrative that the controversial film may have been behind the attacks. so there are mounting questions about transparency here at the white house and libya no doubt will be a big issue at the debates. >> i assume not just libya, syria, iran, what's going on with u.s. relations with russia, china, and of course the whole war on terror. lots of questions on that t so is he going through all these issues, issues he's dealt with in the fast four years. >> reporter: he is going through all those issues and as you know the campaign has been second retive about specifics when it comes to preparation going into the debates but clearly they understand that mitt romney will come out swinging on all of those issues that you have just
3:03pm
listed. both not only the romney campaign and the republicans in general have been critical of this president not only on his domestic issues but hau he has been hand lilg all these issues overseas and the president preparing to counter that at the final debate. thanks very much. let's dig deeper and discuss the state of the race and look ahead to monday's final presidential debate. we're joined by gloria borger and ryan liza. he's the new yorker mag zeen's washington correspondent. gloria, how important is this final debate to both of these candidates? >> it's very important to both of them because it's the last time you're going to see them together talking to republicans though, they're sort of scratching their heads about how it was that the foreign policy debate has been the last debate for mitt romney. in 2008 foreign policy was the first debate and when you're the chal edger you would rather not debate the commander in chief
3:04pm
who has had a great deal of success, particularly killing osama bin laden, as your last debate. so i think there's some head scratching among republicans. because of course romney is at a disadvantage. >> but didn't both campaigns agree to the terms of these presidentials debates. >> yes, i said outside republicans. >> so they knew what they were getting themselves into. >> right. >> ryan, what are the strengths and weaknesses of both of these candidates on these foreign policy issues? >> well, you know the strength of the challenger is you don't have to -- for romney is you don't have to be all that consistent. you don't have to live in the real world. and so it makes it easier to criticize and attack. so for instance on china, watching this debate on china with romney playing the china bashing role and obama trying to be more diplomatic about relations with china, it remind me of '92, it remind me of 2000.
3:05pm
they use china as an issue, and they get in there and have a more accommodating view of china. in that sense it makes it easier for the challenger because romney doesn't have the responsibility of actually being the commander in chief right now. for obama, i think the big advantage is if you just look at the numbers, most voters are still -- his big advantage is foreign policy. so at the end of the campaign is about foreign policy, the numbers right now tell us that that's a strength for obama. so i think romney is going to try and look for some ways to bring it back to domestic issues, to find ways to use foreign policy, to talk about some of the pocketbook issues that a lot of americans seem more concerned with right now. >> and i think what romney is going to do is try to turn the issue of foreign policy into a question of leadership. his leadership numbers have really been coming up. he would like to turn the libya issue, for example, the question of what the white house knew,
3:06pm
when it knew it, how it behaved, how it told the story to the american people, as a question of presidential leadership. because that's an area they believe the president has a vulnerability. but as you saw at the last debate, the president did very well on the libya question. they're going to have to have a better way of handling it coming into this. >> i'm sure that romney will try as often as he can to pivot some of these international issues to domestic economic issues by pointing out if the u.s. has a weak economy, has huge deficits and needs to borrow money from china it's that's going to resonate for him as well. >> hees had an advantage on him on who do you trust more to do something about the deficit and that's an issue he's been hammering and china is directly related to that so i suspect he'll talk about that a lot. one thing i hope they'll talk about, i think the big defining issue for obama is how he's
3:07pm
dealt with the arab spring and there's a debate on both sides about the classic tension about supporting democracy and supporting our extra teeblg i can interests in the region. there's a big debate in the republican part on this issue. other folks who say no, we should have prevented in egypt the muslim brotherhood for coming to power. so i'll be interested to see where romney comes down on that question. does he criticize the president for some of his decisions during the arab spring. >> let's look at some of the battle ground states. the most recent polling results coming in, florida, likely voters, choice for president, romney 49%, obama 48%. that's a tie, obviously. if you look at iowa, 51%, 43%
3:08pm
romney. the wisconsin poll, also the nbc poll, 51% obama, 45 romney. these are the key states, a lot of these are eight, nine, ten states that will determine who the next president is. >> yes. and the romney people would like to see their numbers a little better in florida. they really believe that they've got a really good shot at winning the state of florida. if they lose ohio, wolf, and you look at iowa and wisconsin, they've got to win one of those states and so far they're behind it. and what's behind it is the gender gap which so far is really not working in romney's favor. women, in iowa and wisconsin by double digits. and that's mitt romney's problem. >> you've been doing some reporting x ryan, on nevada right now. unemployment has gone down slightly but it's still above the national average. what do you see there? >> i went there to try to figure out why in a state with 12%
3:09pm
unemployment has obama led every poll this year. it's just a demographic story there. the democrats say the adult latino citizen population has grown 39% since 2008 and they've worked for the last four years to really register those voters and get them to turn out for the democrats. so that it could be a firewall if romney runs the table with florida, north carolina, virginia, colorado and new hampshire, then obama has to hold wisconsin and ohio and win either nevada or iowa. so that to me looks like the sort of division right now. those first states i mentioned, those are the states where romney has really done well since the first debate. so you could see nevada as a firewall if obama keeps his lead in wisconsin and ohio. >> thanks very much. don't forget, 7:00 p.m. eastern monday night, our coverage begins, the third and final presidential debate.
3:10pm
stay with cnn for that. september's deadly attack on the u.s. consulate in benghazi has become a major issue. we're going to go over what really happened. (train horn) vo: wherever our trains go, the economy comes to life. norfolk southern. one line, infinite possibilities.
3:11pm
i have a cold, and i took nyquil, but i'm still stubbed up. [ male announcer ] truth is, nyquil doesn't unstuff your nose. what? [ male announcer ] it doesn't have a decongestant. no way. [ male announcer ] sorry. alka-seltzer plus fights your worst cold symptoms plus has a fast-acting decongestant to relieve your stuffy nose. thanks. [ male announcer ] you're welcome. that's the cold truth! [ male announcer ] alka-seltzer plus. ♪ oh what a relief it is! [ male announcer ] try new alka-seltzer plus severe allergy to treat allergy symptoms plus sinus congestion and pain.
3:12pm
that can only come from having someone else pay your mortgage for an entire year... this is what you'll experience if you win the quicken loans skip-a-year mortgage sweepstakes. up to five winners will get to skip a year of mortgage payments... courtesy of quicken loans. enter often at skipayear.com for more chances to experience...this... the skip-a-year mortgage sweepstakes. one more way quicken loans is engineered to amaze!
3:13pm
one of the most dramatic moments of the second presidential debate was when the candidates attacked over the attack on benghazi. that happened last month. with revelations still coming in, we can expect libya certainly to be front and center during monday night's presidential debate. our senior international correspondent arwa damon is joining us now from beirut. you were there in benghazi.
3:14pm
you spoke to eyewitnesss, did they appreciate right away or did it take time for them to realize this was a terror plot rather than some spontaneous demonstration resulting from that anti-muslim video? >> reporter: well, wolf, all of the eyewitnesss that we spoke to at the scene at the consult them self all they said they're a crowd whose chants were louder and louder and suddenly the attack began from three different directions. most certainly they were all saying that this seemed like it was coordinated because it did come from three different directions. they said they used both light and heavy weapons. rocket propelled grenades and other forms of artillery as well. that is what we know. we also do know when it comes to this attack. it was the location, the consulate in and of itself that
3:15pm
had been torthed in the past. we do know of the extreme elements that do exist in benghazi, elements that the u.s. itself had been monitoring, and had been systematically targeting them over the few months before the attack on the consulate itself. wolf. >> so it sounds like there was a plot there, they were anxious to go there and do damage to the united states, kill american diplomats but make they just used the excuse of the video to launch the attack? is that what i'm hearing, arwa? >> that is one theory that is out there, wolf. and we really don't know what the exact motive was for the timing of the particular attack that did take place. was it in fact using the excuse of the video to go ahead and target this location? was it the fact that it was -- 9/11, that of course greatly symbolic in and of itself or was
3:16pm
it that they saw this was the perfect window of opportunity for them to launch this sort of attack. we do know these types of groups are always looking for weaknesses for vulnerabilities. tragically the way the security was set up there did provide them with a vulnerable target. the libyan government very shortly after the acan ta, again when we spoke to the head of the general national congress on the scene, said that he believed this was some sort of premeditated assault that was carried out with the intent of wreaking maximum havoc. the libyans themselves, other military officials that we had been talking to had been saying that they had been warning the americans that quite simply their position, their stance in benghazi especially was increasingly vulnerable. so it seems unfortunately all of the factors were in place to allow this kind of an attack to
3:17pm
take place. >> unfortunately indeed. all right, thanks very much. stand by for some shocking video. video shows workers to united states security contractor in afghanistan allegedly partying it up, apparently drunk and drugged. ♪ ♪ [ male announcer ] you've been years in the making. and there are many years ahead. join the millions of members who've chosen an aarp medicare supplement insurance plan insured by unitedhealthcare insurance company. go long. insured by unitedhealthcare insurance company. perform, compete and grow. and people are driving this change. that's the power of human resources. the society... for human resource management and its members know...
3:18pm
how to harness that power, because we help develop it. from the next economy, to the next generation, we help get... the most out of business, by getting the best out of people. shrm. leading people, leading organizations. bp has paid overthe people of bp twenty-threeitment to the gulf. billion dollars to help those affected and to cover cleanup costs. today, the beaches and gulf are open, and many areas are reporting their best tourism seasons in years. and bp's also committed to america. we support nearly 250,000 jobs and invest more here than anywhere else. we're working to fuel america for generations to come. our commitment has never been stronger.
3:19pm
3:20pm
>> i'm right here. >> bring it to me. the video is shocking. persons working for a top u.s. security contractor in afghanistan allegedly so drugged or intoxicated, they could hardly function.
3:21pm
our brian todd is working the story for us. brian? >> reporter: wolf, this is a security contracting firm that's received almost $900 million worth of krars. one watchdog group says the behavior of the em ploes undermines the mission in afghanistan. staggering around half naked, seemingly drunk. wrestling. shouting at the man videotaping them. this is a.m. mature video from earlier this year of people working for an american security contractor in kabul, afghanistan. this man identified as the security manager for the contracting firm george scientific. >> it reminded me many times i visited my friends in college that were in fra ternties. >> reporter: john is one of two former employees filing a seven figure lawsuit against the firm
3:22pm
for allegedly committing frud on the u.s. government. they say they were harassed for trying to blow the whistle. the company denies that. the plaintiff alleges ambulate event drinking, the misuse of firearms which they say prevented the firm from carriying out its assigned duty. the video was shot on a cell phone. >> how often did you observe this behavior? >> the misbehavior was actually almost every other night. several times a week. it was just at any time you could see get together tonight and walk outside. typically at the end of the evening, some time late afternoon. >> smith says he and nelson tried to stop the behavior. taking it to the top levels of the company. he says they were told it would be addressed. in this section of the video, a man identified as the security firm's medic, appears in coherent. there's a syringe on the floor.
3:23pm
the plaintiff's claim he'd injected a horse tranquil lieser called ketamine. >> how can the medic be doing his job or the security contractors be able to protect those that are training the afghanistan police? then you have the fact that they're having this behavior in the middle of kabul. so they're blowing up a.m. mu initial in bonfires. >> that's a reference to this video. contacted by cnn, george scientific issued a statement saying it took decisive action to correct unacceptable behavior of a limited number of employees. it says it implemented a no-drinking policy. but they deny committing fraud. they say the men in these scenes did not have top security roles.
3:24pm
that they had administrative and support jobs, sometimes driving. i asked the mr.'s lawyer about that. >> the people representing the company say these guys had no security detail. that they were just administrative support. >> that's a gross undersnament of what these individuals did. these individuals are the security manager for the facility and the operations manager of security for the entire country of afghanistan for the company. they were supposed to protect their own people as whel as the local afghanistans. >> george scientific disputes that reiterating those men did not have a protective role for local afghans. the company representatives say no one involved with the video is still with them and that the company is conducting its own investigation. the u.s. military is supposed to oversea these contractors. contacted by cnn, the officials from the nato command say they take these allegations seriously and that the u.s. army's
3:25pm
criminal investigation division is looking into the allegations. we made attempts to reach the two men in the video aside from that medic and were unable to. wolf? >> brian todd reporting for us. thank you. meanwhile a massive show of military power between the united states and israel. up next, the message these war games could be sending to iran.
3:26pm
3:27pm
wooohooo....hahaahahaha! oh...there you go. wooohooo....hahaahahaha! i'm gonna stand up to her! no you're not. i know. you know ronny folks who save hundreds of dollars switching to geico sure are happy. how happy are they jimmy? happier than a witch in a broom factory. get happy. get geico. fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more.
3:28pm
[ male announcer ] jill and her mouth have lived a great life. but she has some dental issues she's not happy about. so i introduced jill to crest pro-health for life. selected for people over 50. pro-health for life is a toothpaste that defends against tender, inflamed gums, sensitivity and weak enamel. conditions people over 50 experience. crest pro-health for life. so jill can keep living the good life. crest. life opens up when you do. a massive show of military
3:29pm
power between the united states and israel. the first of a thousand american troops arriving there this week for the largest joint missile defense exercise in the alliance. it call comes amid escalating tensions in iran and may soon flex its nuclear muscles. >> just recently, no matter which country attacks iran, it would retaliate against israel and the united states. so this exercise is designed to make sure israel and american systems can repel that kind of attack. coming just a few weeks before the presidential election, it also has political messages as well. >> reporter: willtory commanders won't even say the word iran. when it comes to these exercises. they don't have to. the israeli general in charge of planning said the fact we're practicing together is a strong
3:30pm
message by itself. iran will see how well u.s. ships and troops can work with israeli rocket shields as they defend attacks from rockets, missiles and drones. the pentagon can also test some new technology it helped pay for, like israel's iron dome. in all the exercise will refer 3500 hus troops. they'll be training over three weeks in parts of israel, europe and the mediterranean. the chairman of the joint chiefs said the u.s. did not want to be come police it in a u.s. israeli attack on iran. >> i think it's a big deal and it's meant to be a big deal. >> reporter: republicans have accused president obama of em
3:31pm
boldening iran. >> the president said he was going to put daylight between us and israel. >> reporter: for a president preparing for his final national security debate, the timing of the troops arriving in israel couldn't be better. >> it also by the way helps president obama in his re-election to reassure people that u.s.-israeli ties are strong. >> that said, it doesn't appear to be any political planning behind the schedule here. they have these exercises on a smaller scale every two years. this one was scheduled for earlier in the spring but had to be rescheduled because the israelis wanted to postpone it. but you're not just talking about american elections here. you've also got early elections coming up in israel, too. there have been some ordinary israelis have been anxious about the fact wondering if the u.s. would really step in and help if israel took a unilateral strike on iran. these exercises may help nettth.
3:32pm
>> all right. chris lawrence at the pentagon. thanks very much. let's dig deeper into this. david sanger is here. he's the author of the book "confront and conceal." an excellent book indeed. >> thanks for having me. >> what do you make of the timing, a thousand u.s. troops in israel for these exercises. >> well, this was supposed to happen back in the spring. it did get put off but the timing is a happy consequence dense for both president obama and for prime minute ter netanyahu. romney is likely to repeat his line that the president is willing to have die light between himself and israel. >> he has also said he threw israel under the bus. >> he has said that.
3:33pm
i think these exercises underscore the point. while there is great distance between obama and netanyahu, the u.s. and israel on the security issues have worked together quite closely, as you have heard. not only this, but also the missile defense systems that have been put up. and of course olympic games. the cyber program against iran, which was a joint u.s.-israeli program. you have the oddity of two leaders who have been going each other and two countries who have been working together closely. >> do you think these exercises are designed to send a message to iran? >> definitely. and the message is no matter what happens if israel strikes, if the sanctions get tighter, don't even think about trying to mine the gulf. there's a big show of coordinated force out there and it's not just the u.s. and israel. there will be others involved as
3:34pm
well. >> you heard the defense secretary suggest there could be a cyber warfare pearl harbor against the united states. was he referring to what iran is trying to do? because there's been suspicion that iran has engaged in cyber war fare successfully against u.s. financial institutions. >> this line has been used before in congressional testimony. but it was interesting when you heard secretary panetta say it in a speech last week, it becomes as there was the beginnings of intelligence that iran had been behind at least two different cyber attacks. i don't think his phrase was limited entirely to iran. before that's been used in regards to china, which of course has been considered responsible for most of the cyber activity in the united states. also russia and many others. but iran is the newest concern, and of course there are many who are saying that the iranians are
3:35pm
doing to the u.s. what the u.s. did to iran. >> when i heard of that latest car bombing in beirut, i immediately suspected that the slaughter that's going on in syria is going to spread to the neighboring companies. do you see that happening? >> it could well and the biggest concern is of course turkey. you see the cases where the turkish jet was shot down, there's been other issues along the border there. but syria, of course, could well try to move into lebanon to make a point to the rest of the world. we don't know much about this bombing yet so it's a little bit early to figure out where this all happened from. but you know, could the syrian conflict expand? very easily. >> you wrote a por powerful story this week about arms that are gettin to the rebels that are winding up in the hands of
3:36pm
maybe even al qaeda. >> this is a big problem. you have heard president obama say that while the u.s. would not arm the rebels directly, the u.s. would facilitate that arming and that's been happening through gutter and through the saw saudis. you have heard mitt romney say he would do even more. the essential problem is no one has a good sense of what the loilts are of these individual rebel groups. and increasingly it looks like the jihadists have gotten the lion's share of the arms. that's not the way this program was supposed to go. >> is there one question you're looking for in the foreign policy debate? >> there is one thing i'm looking for. you know, we've got a pretty good sense of when president obama will and will not intervene in military action aaround the world.
3:37pm
has been very hesitant on syria. we don't have a very good idea on governor romney's stand ards of when he would act. would it only be when american national interest is threatened? would it be in a humanitarian case like syria? would he act against iran unilaterally because he thinks it would be better for the united states do see thannish real? >> i'm looking for all those and a lot more as well. >> thank you for coming? >> david sanger. his book "confront and conceal." the author of a popular children's books is trying to get kids interested in politics. how's this for starters? >> everybody on their best behavior, i want everybody to say hi, cnn! >> hi cnn! >> hi wolf blitzer!
3:38pm
today, the beaches and gulf are open, and many areas are reporting their best tourism seasons in years. and bp's also committed to america. we support nearly 250,000 jobs and invest more here than anywhere else. we're working to fuel america for generations to come. our commitment has never been stronger. i'm an expert on softball. and tea parties. i'll have more awkward conversations than i'm equipped for because i'm raising two girls on my own. i'll worry about the economy more than a few times before they're grown. but it's for them, so i've found a way. who matters most to you says the most about you. massmutual is owned by our policyholders so they matter most to us. massmutual. we'll help you get there.
3:39pm
3:40pm
3:41pm
they may not be voting on election day in 17 days, but when they grow up, many of america's children will certainly have the chance to. one children's book author is trying to get kids interested in the process right now. lisa sylvester caught up with him. >> reporter: we hear the ads. we hear the chatter. sometimes, it's hard to figure out what it all means. it's tough enough for adults, even harder if you're a child. >> i think mitt romney and barack obama are still running for president? >> every present has to be good at kissing babies. i don't know why, though. >> jobs are low right now, and
3:42pm
right now most things aren't made in usa. right now we're giving off money and china is getting stuff. >> reporter: does that give you an idea about the lens through which kids view politics. >> i think kids probably pick up more than we give them credit for, because they're exposed to it. even if they're just watching television with mom and dad. >> reporter: that's where nick bruel comes in. new york times best selling author and illustrator of the popular "bad kitty" series. his latest book is "bad kitty for president." >> i wanted to create a book that would be fun and interesting for kids about this whole process, that this country goes through. >> bruel's character decides to run for president kuchg on things from caucuses to
3:43pm
political ads to campaign finance of the and the third graders at shaunee elementary in pennsylvania can't get enough. >> i think they're picking up a lot. books like this and other things we do in the school system. >> reporter: sure it will be 2024 before they can vote, but teaching civics early on can make a difference. >> why did you pick a cat, why didn't you pick a dog? >> they can't vote themselves, but they can go up to their mom or dad who ever is in the house, say hey you, have you registered to vote yet? >> reporter: when he started the book his goal was to create a store i that children loved and inform them along the way. >> when i'm writing the stories about kitty, i don't think of her as a cat. i think of her as a little kid who happens to be shaped like a cat. >> it is funny. i think it helps kids learn.
3:44pm
>> i didn't know that they have to go through so many things to finally get to be president. >> reporter: proving you're never too young to learn. lisa sylvester, cnn, washington. a skathing report about harassment and discrimination complaints on capitol hill. up next, why the bad behavior may be costing taxpayers millions of dollars. p [ ross ] we are in the dades gorge,
3:45pm
high up in the atlas mountains of morocco. have you seen this road we're going down? ♪ there is no relief for the brakes. we'll put them to the test today. all right, let's move out! [ ross ] we're pushing the ats brakes to the limit. going as fast as we can down the hill. we are making these sharp turns, slamming on the brembo brakes. [ derek ] it's like instant response, incredibly consistent. this is the challenge, machine vs. mountain. [ male announcer ] the all-new cadillac ats.
3:46pm
3:47pm
3:48pm
. if you're frustrated with what's happening or isn't happening on capitol hill these days, a skathing new report. here's dana bash. >> reporter: florida democrat the case was dispoliced mac court but it's one example of a sharply rising number of harassment and discrimination complaints by congressional employees. 142 people made claims in 2011 and settlements cost $461,366. >> why are my tax dollars going to settle cases of people who are not treating their employees well? >> well, in an ideal world members of congress wouldn't be discriminating against their workers. >> deborah cats is an attorney. two years ago he admitted to
3:49pm
tickling his male stafferers. katz things the number of her cases is higher, but congressional aids are too intimidated to complain. >> it's young aspiring people who want political careers, who want to do great things, who believe in the parties. they don't want to be disloyal and they know that by filing a complaint against these very powerful people, it's the end of their careers, functionally. >> reporter: before a complaint is filed, the first step is a request for confidential counseling and often a person alleges more than one claim. in 2011, there were 196. that's up from 2010. and if you look at this graph, a significant climb since 2008. the report also tracks retaliation. last year, there were 108 cases of bosses retaliating against employees. most complaints come from police officers and capitol support workers, in less political jobs with unions who inform them of their rights. that's not the case for congressional employees.
3:50pm
see this? workers' rights on the wall at cnn. that's required by law. but members of congress are exempt from posting that. the report also unearthed how inaccessible the capitol is to people with disabilities, listing 154 so-called barriers to access. 84 pose safety risks. this curb ramp right outside the house building is a classic example of a safety risk. look at this. the cracks are so wide and the slope is so steep that wheelchairs can easily flip over. in fact, 95% of all curb ramps outside house office buildings are not compliant with the american disabilities act. this is a law, of course, that congress itself passed. the fact that people in wheelchairs can't get up on a curb to get to what's supposed to be the people's house -- >> is disgraceful. >> reporter: one bright spot, we did happen to see one curb ramp being fixed. dana bash, cnn, capitol hill. airline pilots love to tell
3:51pm
passengers what they can see outside their windows. in the case of a rescue at sea, a captain had to ask his passengers to look for something, and lucky for one sailor, they found him. ♪ chirping beeping camera ahhhh drill sound chirping electric shaver shaking remote tapping sound shaking drill chirping tapping shaking remote wouldn't it be great to have one less battery to worry about? car honking irping the 2012 sonata hybrid. the only hybrid with a lifetime hybrid battery warranty. from hyundai.
3:52pm
3:53pm
3:54pm
even though sparks are expected to fly at the final presidential debate monday night, for a few brief moments this week, voters experienced a little comic relief from the presidential candidates. president obama and governor romney sharing the same stage at the al smith charity dinner in
3:55pm
new york city, exchanging one-liners and laughs. >> earlier today, i went shopping at some stores in midtown. i understand governor romney went shopping for some stores in midtown. >> we're down to the final months of the president's term. as the president's -- as president obama surveys the waldorf banquet room, with everyone in white tie and finery, you have to wonder what he's thinking. so little time. so much to redistribute. >> tonight's not about the disagreements governor romney and i may have. it's what we have in common, beginning with our unusual names. actually, mitt is his middle name. i wish i could use my middle name. >> a campaign can require a lot of wardrobe changes. we -- blue jean in the morning,
3:56pm
perhaps, suit for a lunch fund-raiser, sport coat for dinner. but it's nice to finally relax and to wear what ann and i wear around the house. >> very funny stuff. but don't look for anymore laughs when the candidates meet for their final debate in florida. our live cnn coverage monday, 7:00 p.m. eastern, stay with us for that. rescues at sea don't come more incredible than this one. a man was plucked from the ocean after his crippled boat was spotted by a passing airliner. cnn's michael holmes has the story. >> reporter: after nine days stranded at sea, this is the moment glenn aye made it to safety, rescued in the middle of the night. the 44-year-old had sailed from sydney, but soon was hit by a freak storm, a huge wave rolling his boat and breaking the mast. >> let me show you, when a monster wave picks you up and just dumps you like that, it's very frightening. >> reporter: australian authorities began searching for
3:57pm
glenn's missing yacht on tuesday after he activated his emergency beacon. they even asked for help from an air canada flight on its way from sydney. the captain of the plane called on his passengers to help. >> as we approached the area, i made a p.a. announcement to the passengers. >> we really appreciate it if everyone could look out their window. >> please help us look for, if you see anything. >> heart started beating a little bit faster. anything out of the ordinary on an international flight like that is a bit concerning. >> incredibly, they spotted the yacht. >> almost immediately, as we closed in on the area, the first officer said, well, i see what i think is the boat. so we proceeded right over -- it was almost exactly where they had told us it would be. >> reporter: the air canada crew called in the yacht's position and soon after, glenn heard a rescue plane. >> it was absolutely wonderful. it's beautiful. >> reporter: glenn's worried parents were waiting for him when he stepped back on land, early thursday morning. soon after, glenn talked about
3:58pm
his ordeal on australian television. he says he had no idea the passenger plane was key to his rescue. >> it's fabulous. i wasn't aware of any of this until this morning. i've actually spoken to some canadian people about it. >> we were happy when we found the boat the first time and we were really happy when we found that this guy was alive. >> reporter: and now that he's safe, glenn is in no rush to go back to sea. >> i'll be quite happy to sit under a tree for a while, to be honest. >> reporter: michael holmes, cnn, atlanta. here's a look at this hour's hot shots. in cambodia, a buddhist monk prays in the middle of a street. in australia, a man stops to look at a sculpture of a crocodile at an art exhibition in sydney. in germany, a bright sunflower basks in the afternoon sun. temperatures are unseasonably warm in the southern part of the country. and in mongolia, look at this, a young boy takes a toy car for a spin around a public square. hot shots, pictures coming in from around the world.
3:59pm
remember, you can always follow what's going on in "the situation room" on twitter. tweet me, @wolfblitzer. thanks very much for watching. i'm wolf blitzer in "the situation room." the news continues next on cnn. hello, everyone. i'm don lemon. here's what's happening right now. a dramatic development tonight to tell you about in the standoff over iran's nuclear program. "the new york times" is reporting that iran has agreed to one-on-one talks with the united states. the report is attributed to white house officials and suggest that talks wouldn't begin until after the presidential election. "the times" describes this as a last-ditch development, diplomatic effort to avoid a military stri